Novak Djokovic’s preparations for the defence of his French Open title continue to gather pace as he eased past Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets to book a spot in the last four at the Madrid Masters.
The World No.1 looked sharp and in-tune as he roared to a 6-3 6-4 victory to reach the 72nd Masters 1000 semi-final of his career.
Djokovic improved to 7-3 for what has so far been a disrupted 2022 season and will meet Rafael Nadal or Carlos Alcaraz next after improving his head-to-head record against Hurkacz to 4-0.
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Speaking to Amazon Prime after reaching his first Masters 1000 semi final of the year, Djokovic said: "I value it this year more than in previous years because of the circumstances of everything. Look, I still feel motivated to play and be competitive on court, competing with most of the young guys. Obviously there's a change in generation, but the oldies, we’re still out there. We are guys with experience trying to make them run on the court. One thing is for sure, I will definitely play as long as I enjoy it."
Reflecting on what turned into a routine quarter-final success, he added: "In the first set, we both didn’t play so great, there were a lot of unforced errors. It took us both time to really adjust and adapt to the conditions because it was different from the other days as well. In the second set, there was a better quality of tennis.
"I was serving really well in the second. That really kept me alive. He was serving good too. I was pleased with the way I was constructing the point, trying to make him run and overall it was a solid performance. You have to adapt and accept the circumstances and make the most out of them."
Djokovic, who received a walkover in the previous round due to Andy Murray’s illness, rarely seemed troubled in what proved to be an underwhelming and one-sided opening set.
Hurkacz appeared strangely nervous and compounded a very leaky start with a double fault and a loose backhand that allowed the 20-time Grand Slam champion to break and roar into a 3-0 lead.
The Polish No.12 seed finally found his service rhythm but paid the price for giving the Serbian top seed a head start as Djokovic remained untroubled to claim the opener in just 33 minutes.
Hurkacz, who was appearing in his third straight Masters 1000 quarter final, survived a break point in the opening game of Set 2 with some clutch tennis but his propensity for leaking unforced errors returned soon after as he handed Djokovic the initiative. The Serb did not have to do much to break for a 3-2 lead and continued to play with real authority until a slight wobble in game eight. Hurkacz pushed the three-time Madrid champion to deuce but could not carve out a break opening.
The world No.14 then fought off two match points against his own serve before Djokovic served it out on his fourth opportunity to comfortably reach the semi final in the Spanish capital for the first time since 2019.
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